Human rights activists have renewed calls for Iran not to execute the web developer Saeed Malekpour, after the programmer's sister said the country had upheld his death sentence on judicial review.
Amnesty International said on Thursday that Malekpour's execution could take place at any time. The 35-year-old Canadian resident was arrested in 2008 when visiting family in Iran, as authorities there said a photo-uploading program he had designed had been used for uploading pornography to the web.
"By confirming Saeed Malekpour's death sentence after an unfair trial, the Iranian authorities are sending a message to Iranians not to freely express their views, or even to help others to do so, including on the internet," Amnesty Middle East and North Africa interim Deputy director Ann Harrison said.
According to Amnesty, other people awaiting execution on internet-related charges include blogger Vahid Asghari and website administrator Ahmad Reza Hashempour. Bloggers Hossein Derakhshan and Hossein Ronaghi are serving sentences of 19.5 and 15 years respectively for their online activities, and many others have been arrested recently.
Following solitary confinement of more than a year, Malekpour was sentenced to death in October 2010, after he confessed to his alleged crimes on state television. He later retracted the confession, saying he had been tortured.
The case was sent for judicial review and the sentence suspended in June 2011, but the Revolutionary Court apparently upheld the death sentence in November.
"The Supreme Court should have investigated the reports of Saeed Malekpour's torture instead of confirming his sentence," Harrison said. "If he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, he should be released immediately and unconditionally."